Thousands of Ukrainians to condemn domestic violence and publicly display their opposition to the silence that hides it (04/08/2010)

On 1 August, at a street event gathering over 1,000 concerned citizens in central Kyiv, the European Union’s Delegation and Ukraine's Ministry of Family, Youth and Sportssaluted a growing grassroots campaign that aims to bring together over 200 000 people across the country to publicly profess their opposition to domestic violence in all its forms.

Boosted by street events, a billboard and online campaign, volunteers will fan out across the country’s festivals, beaches and big cities to encourage citizens to wear the symbol of that opposition: a magenta “I’m against violence” rubber wristband.

During August, 200 000 of these bracelets will be distributed along with many thousands of virtual bracelets worn by people’s social networking avatars. This vivid symbol sends a simple message: the wearer refuses to be a victim, refuses to be violent, and refuses to tolerate violence amongst his family and friends. While it is a small, simple step, because it is a public display of commitment, that little bracelet sends a powerful message in our society, where domestic violence is still kept quiet, behind closed doors.

That message is simply this: violence is not acceptable. We, the wearers, will not tolerate it any longer. We refuse to keep quiet. And we believe that, by working together, we can overcome the horrendous legacy of domestic violence in Ukraine, and reduce its impact on future generations.

“All countries are tackling violence and discrimination against women and children. But only Ukrainian society’s attitude to this problem may decide whether a victim can get some help and a perpetrator can be prosecuted on a legal basis. Ukraine has long-lasting gender stereotypes and an opinion that violence is an internal family business, which provokes low status of women and children, although the valid legal framework is quite good. The EU is working with Ukraine to enact all possible communication tools and work to change behavior and attitude to domestic violence”, - stated Ambassador José Manuel Pinto Teixeira, Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine.

The best estimates the state has is that each year, almost half of Ukrainian women suffer from domestic violence. More precise numbers are hard to come by, because of the wall of silence that surrounds the problem. These victims are, by far, the biggest group of victims in our country. It is much bigger than all other victims of violent crime and of car accidents put together. Worse, it does not “just” affect adult women. Many of those who attack their partner also attack the children in their families.

Many victims never come forward for help. And even those who choose to break the wall of silence often do not know where to turn to. Mrs.SvitlanaTolstoukhova, theDeputyMinisterofUkraineforFamily, YouthandSports, said“We are planning to implement wide-scale awareness activities in Ukrainian society within the frames of the campaign. We are also planning to provide victims of domestic violence with practical support tools. As of today, we have 20 centersofsocialandpsychologicalaidand 8 rehabilitationcentersforvictimsofviolencealloverUkraine. Moreover, we’replanningtodistributeinformationalmaterialswithpracticaladviceforvictimsofdomesticviolencewithintheframesofthecampaign”.

These initiatives will only work if Ukrainians come together to say: “enough is enough. No more violence.” By doing this simple thing – wearing this little rubber wristband – Ukrainians will publicly declare their opposition to violence, and their support for its victims.

 

Anybody can join the Internet campaign at:

http://vsirivni.com.ua/blog/

http://twitter.com/vsi_rivni

http://www.facebook.com/pages/VsiRivni/336685748881?v=wall

National “hotline” on violence prevention and children’s rights protection:

0 800 500 335

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

 EU-funded Project “Women and children’s rights in Ukraine – Communication component”,

Mrs. Anastasia Trotska, tel./fax: (+38 044) 278 3376 / 288 2726, cell phone: +38 095 139 93 52, email: pr@cwrights.com.ua

Mrs. Maryna Bevzenko, + 38 063 482 28 43, Marina.bevzenko@mail.ru